Posts Tagged ‘23rd Psalms’

A few weeks ago, I posted a blog with an excerpt from my current WIP. I received some fabulous feed back, which in turned fueled my excitement about this book.

Here’s another excerpt. I’d love your thoughts, comments, suggestions, etc. I’m nearing the end of this project and can’t wait to print out the pages and get to work fixing it and making it all pretty.

Photo courtesy Google Images

Photo courtesy Google Images

            Luke squeezed her elbow. “Do you have Kleenex or a handkerchief with you?” he asked softly when Lyle moved past toward the group at the cemetery. When she shook her head, he handed her a handkerchief from his pocket. “It’s okay to cry you know.”

            “Ryan and Haley won’t,” she said.

            “We’ll see. But even if they don’t, that doesn’t mean you can’t.”

            Shiloh sighed heavily. “I guess we should go over there.”

            Luke held on to her elbow as they descended the steps. When they were about halfway to the small crowd past the barn, a man with a fringe of gray-black hair circling his head from ear to ear approached. Shiloh didn’t recognize the old barber at first until Luke greeted him.

            “Hey, Leonard.”

            “Luke.” Leonard Steele shook hands with Luke before extending his palm to Shiloh. “Miss Ferguson,” he said. “Your dad . . . he was a good man. I’m so sorry for your loss.”

            “Thank you, Mr. Steele.”

            “This old town just ain’t gonna be the same with him not around,” Leonard added.

            “I know what you mean,” Shiloh said softly. “This house doesn’t feel the same either.” She blinked a few times before managing a tight-lipped smile.

            Leonard’s gaze roamed around the property to the barn and the house then back to Shiloh. “I reckon you girls have plans for the place. It’s a nice piece of property. Sure be a shame to see someone other than a Ferguson living out here.”

            Shiloh dipped her chin. Luke cleared his throat.

            “For as long as I can remember this has been Ferguson land,” Leonard continued to reminisce, and Shiloh tried to listen without feeling sadness or guilt. “I remember when Ollie died and Ross took over. ‘Course times were different back then and when you kids came along ranching wasn’t gonna pay the bills so he sold off the cattle and took that job over at the mill. Lumber was booming back in them days.”

            “Yeah, the timber industry was good to a lot of folks in this area,” Luke said.

            Another man, one Shiloh didn’t recognize, approached them and shook Luke’s hand before offering his condolences to Shiloh.

            “I don’t know him,” Shiloh said.

            “That’s Pete,” Luke said. “He worked with your dad at the mill. There’s probably going to be a few more guys here, too. Your dad was some kind of manager or overseer or something.”

            “Oh,” Shiloh said. “I didn’t know that.”

            “Looks like Donny’s getting ready to start,” Luke said. “We should head on down there.”

            Shiloh watched Reverend Coombs wave his arms to gather people around the freshly dug grave. Ryan and Haley were ushered next to the casket. Ryan caught her eye and flicked her wrist toward her chest, a get-over-here-now gesture.

            Keeping a hand firmly on her elbow, Luke guided Shiloh around the group of mourners to stand at Haley’s side. When the three sisters were lined up beside the mahogany casket, Luke took a few steps sideways. He picked up his daughter and stood next to his mother on Shiloh’s right.

            Reverend Coombs spoke a few kind words quietly to the three Ferguson girls before addressing the crowd, but Shiloh had no idea what he said. All sounds jumbled together into a disturbing white noise. Like an ever changing kaleidoscope, shapes and figures melded together in a watery abstract mist around her. Haley sniffed. Ryan fidgeted, but not enough to appear impatient. Shiloh’s heels sank into the muddy ground. A cool breeze fluttered the hair around her face. The sweet smell of lilies wafted from its resting place atop the coffin.

            And then Reverend Coombs stepped aside and another man took his place. A middle-aged man with brown hair and a pock marked complexion. Shiloh tried to listen, to figure out who he was and why he was addressing the crowd. Something about the mill, hard work and dedication. He extended a plaque toward the sisters. Haley took it, shook his hand.

Photo courtesy Google Images

Photo courtesy Google Images

          The man melted back into the group and Reverend Coombs addressed them again. He opened a thick black book and recited. The Bible? Of course. As he finished the scripture he asked the crowd to join him in the twenty-third Psalms.

            “The Lord is my Shepherd . . .”

            More and more voices joined the reverend’s. The buzzing in her ears abated as the many voices joined together in one clear recitation. “He maketh me lie down in green pastures.” Haley knocked her elbow against Shiloh’s jarring her completely out of her stupor. Shiloh turned her head toward her sister. Haley’s head was bowed, but her eyes were on Shiloh.

             Tears flowed down Haley’s cheeks. “He restoreth my soul.” Haley’s lips exaggerated the words.

            Shiloh bowed her head and scrambled to remember what came next. She had no recollection of how or when she had even learned the bible passage, but the words were familiar. She just had to remember the proper order.

            She concentrated on listening to the crowd. “Yea though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for thou art with me.”

          She moved her lips through the next stanzas about preparing a table and cups running over, but she didn’t actually utter a word until she was cognizant enough to participate verbally. “Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.”

            After the collective “Amen,” Reverend Coombs handed each of the sisters a white lily. Ryan immediately dropped hers on to the top of the coffin and walked away. Haley reached for Shiloh’s hand and together they approached the casket resting on a low wooden platform beside the deep grave. Haley released Shiloh’s hand, laid her single bloom on top of Ryan’s and swiped her knuckles across her cheeks. Shiloh placed her flower next to the other two then slid her fingers along the polished surface of the coffin, surprised at its warmth.

            She covered her lips with her fingers and stared at the shiny wood grain of the coffin lid. The irony of her father being buried in a wooden coffin almost made her laugh. She kissed her fingertips then pressed them against the casket. She’d never kissed, or been kissed by her father when he was alive, but it seemed appropriate now.

            When her tears began to fall in earnest, Haley wrapped an arm around her and guided her away from the coffin. They embraced briefly but separated when people gathered around to hug them and offer condolences. Haley received far more hugs than Shiloh, but in about five minutes the entire group had disbursed and most people were getting into their cars and leaving. From the foot of the porch, Ryan waved and thanked folks for coming as one by one the cars backed up and drove away from the house.

            Shiloh stood in a patch of sunshine near the barn, watching as people spoke with either Haley or Ryan before climbing into their cars and leaving. Reverend Coombs was the last person to leave the burial site. He stopped in front of her on his way to his car.

            “Someone from Lawton’s will be by a little later this afternoon to finish the burial. If you’d like, I can stay with you until they’re gone.”

            The reverend’s words were kind, but Shiloh wouldn’t need the company. Earlier she’d been instructed by Ryan that immediately after the funeral she was to drive to Mr. Stott’s office for their four o’clock appointment. At least she’d been given a heads up about that appointment, unlike the visit from the realtor which had shocked her senseless.

            “Thank you,” she said. “But I’ll be okay. I, uh . . . I have an appointment this afternoon anyway so I won’t be here.”

            “Well, if you change your mind,” Reverend Coombs said, “you know how to reach me. I can be here in a matter of minutes.”

            He patted her shoulder and she offered him a smile. Over his shoulder she saw a woman approach the casket, a woman she hadn’t noticed before.

            “Will you excuse me?” she said to Donny.

             Shiloh approached the woman just as she placed a yellow carnation on the casket. “Did you know my dad?” she asked softly.

            Jillian flinched, quickly pulling her hand inside the plaid cape wrapped around her slender figure before turning around. Her black hair was parted on the side and hung across half of her face and one eye to cover her bruised cheek.

            “Yeah,” she said. “I liked him.”

            “How did you know him?”

Photo courtesy Google Images

Photo courtesy Google Images

           “He used to come into the diner. He liked my aunt’s meatloaf. Said it was the best he’d ever tasted. It was his favorite.”           

            Shiloh only nodded, somewhat ashamed that a total stranger knew his favorite meal when his own daughter didn’t.

            “He used to talk about you, you know?” Jillian said.


            Jillian shrugged. “All of you I guess.” Jillian’s eyes rolled to the porch where Ryan and Haley were talking with Reverend Coombs. “He said that I reminded him of his daughter, but he didn’t say which one. I’m guessing it was you.”

            Shiloh sighed. She’d guessed it too. “Well, we might have a similar rebellious streak, but that’s probably where the resemblance ends.” She reached out and brushed the hair out of Jillian’s face. “I would never let someone hit me.”

            Jillian immediately stepped back and turned her face away from Shiloh’s eyes. “Oh really? I guess it’s better to let someone almost kill you and keep your mouth shut about it?”

            The sting of Jillian’s words cut to the bone. Shiloh closed her eyes until the phantom pains in her abdomen subsided. “No. It’s not.” Shiloh put her hands on Jillian’s shoulders and turned her so that they stood toe to toe. “I made a huge mistake, Jillian,” she whispered. “Please . . . please don’t make the same one.”

 I know it was long, but what’d you think? Lots of characters in this scene and lots of hints about back story and front story. I’d love to hear you thoughts.

Word of the day: gyplure

Fun fact about me: I once drove the family car into the garage – I mean, literally, I hit the garage with the car.

Original post by Jansen Schmidt. August 2013. Photos courtesy Google Images.

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